Saying goodbye to a dog as a non-dog person

For 12 years our yellow lab drove me crazy. Did I love him?  Yes.  Was I the one who fed him, walked him and picked up after him?  Yes.  But did he drive me crazy?  Yes – and I drove him crazy, too.  I loved him, and sometimes my heart swelled for him, but the times he had accidents in the houes, shed all over my clothes, would get out of a gate that wasn’t quite latched all the way, and would bark (literally) at shadows drove me crazy sometimes.  But there were times too — especially when I was healing from my illness – I took comfort from him sleeping near me while I rested on the couch.

Today we said goodbye to him.  It was time.  He had arthritis, dementia, incontinence and was basically unhappy (ears down_ all the time and lived only to eat twice per day, which isn’t a great life.  So after discussing it for months, we did it today.  It was incredibly peaceful.  The vet had a room with a couch and a carpet and pleasant lighting.  She spent 10 minutes petting him, then gave him a sedative.  When he was so drowsy his tongue was hiding out of the side of his mouth, she administered the sedative while we petted him and told him he was a good boy.  He died moments later.

That was three hours ago, and even though I am not a big lover of dogs (I like dogs, I just am not a worshipper of them) I feel awful for him and there is a hole here.  In short, it is painful.  I miss him already.  Hopefully he is at peace.

The book I wrote about my experience as a dog owner when I like dogs but am not crazy about all things dogs.  There won’t be a sequel – it’s too painful right now 🙂

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Saying goodbye to a dog as a non-dog person

I think it’s time to put the dog down :(

The dog has been incontinent since Wednesday – without warning he just stands up and goes — and since he does not move at all it is doubtful he got into anything.  After an awful, disgusting incident Sunday morning, we are keeping him outside until we can gt him to the vet after the holiday weekend…  That aside, he rarely seems happy anymore – he hates going outside to go to the bathroom, has his ears down all the time, and really only shows excitement at meal time and occassionally when someone appears.  He hasn’t been able to get up the stairs to lay next to us in the TV room for months (he loved laying next to us in the TV room before his hips go out).  Sometimes, he doesn’t get up when someone is at the door or even wag his tale and left his head when he gets pets.  And Wife M and Daughter L are starting to think of him as less than enjoyable, what with eating his own poop if he is left unattended and incontinence and overall dementia…  I think he is happy 5-10% of the time and pretty miserable over 90% of his waking hours…  In short, I think it is time to strongly think about putting him down…  I’ve never enjoyed owning dogs — they are a lot of work (and I do most of it) and don’t bring me a lot of joy although I love them and consider them part of the family.  I don’t feel badly about this – I can’t help how I feel, and I take care of them (I give them pets, I feed them, I pick up their poop and often am the only one to take them for a walk) and the family more than covers for me in the dog love departmentent.  But I don’t like the slobber and the panting and the mess and the smell.  Luckily, I am not mean to them, and as I said the rest of the family truly adores them, so it is all good.  But that said, it is emotional to think of putting the dog down.  As I said before, he is part of the family.  But is it fair to let him be miserable?  I don’t think so.  And I truly hope that in the decades to come that if/when I am in a state of dementia my family has the courage — and the legal right — to let me go.  

I think it’s time to put the dog down :(

Gloomy entry alert: If (literally) an army of soldiers rushed by my house, the last thing I would do is pull out a gun and shoot.

I have not been in battle (knock on wood) so have limited credibility, but it seems to me that for every war hero who does something fanatical (like charging a machine gun nest) and survives, there are a thousand would-be heroes who are flat out killed, but we only hear about the one survivor (partially due to propaganda).  So the last thing I would ever do if an army of soldiers was passing by my house is race out with a gun and fire at said army (being part of a militia might be one thing, but an individual and overt act is quite another).  Yet, here is a German soldier’s diary excerpt from the Battle of the Frontiers in World War I, compliments of history.com: “Nothing more terrible could be imagined….We advanced much too fast—a civilian fired at us—he was immediately shot—we were ordered to attack the enemy flank in a forest of beeches—we lost our direction—the men were done for—the enemy opened fire—shells came down on us like hail.”  I truly wonder what that unfortunate civilian was thinking.  Had he given up hope?  Was he suicidal anyway?  Did he have a fleeting moment of invincibility?  A burst of desperation?  One of my favorite lines about war is from The Civil War (Ken Burns), who quoted someone: “War is all hell.”  I can’t think of a worse human instinct than war, especially since it is so often “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

Gloomy entry alert: If (literally) an army of soldiers rushed by my house, the last thing I would do is pull out a gun and shoot.

Ugh – there are more than 200 bodies on Mt. Everest

Am reading about Michael Crichton’s climb up Mt. Kilamanjaro, and in doing separate research was surprised to learn that several people die each year trying to climb the mountain (usually from altitude sickness).  This got me curious about Mt. Everest, and how many people die climbing Everest.  What I was surprised to learn is that there are currently more than 200 people still on Everest, meaning they died near the top and could not be brought back down so are left there.  In some cases, climbers have to step over the bodies to make the summit.  It is referred to as a “graveyard” since there are so many people laying there.  Ugh.  

I will never ever try to climb Everest.  That would be true even if I didn’t have lung disease 🙂   

Ugh – there are more than 200 bodies on Mt. Everest

Remembering a random call to my step grandma in 2008

Am feeling a little guilty I didnt spend more time with my grandpa at the end of his life, but just remembered something that helps me feel a little better…

In 1982, two years after my grandma died, my grandpa married the widow of a co-worker who had died a few years before.  The marriage was a good one – it helped two lonely people who missed their spouses have companionship at the end of their lives, and in fact it helped my grandpa turn away from the booze he’d taken to after my grandma passed.

Fast forward to 2008. Seattle is having a rare extended snow event.  There is a foot of snow (give or take) on the ground, it is literally below freezing, and the snow is expected to last a week.  I am obsessive about watching the weather, so we were well prepared for the snow, but halfway through the second day my wife said, “I wonder how your step grandma is doing?  SHe might be stranded.”

Now, I have not talked to my step grandma in perhaps 5-10 years, and at this time she was in her 90s.  She was a bit of a hermit (not in a bad way), and my grandpa had passed 14 years before.  I always liked her, and got along with her, but we were not close by any stretch.  So my call to her must have seemed completely random to her.  “How are you doing with the snow?” I asked her.  “Do you need anything?”

“My delivery service couldn’t make it yesterday,” she said.  “So I could use some groceries.”  She gave me a list of perhaps 20 items, so I put chains on the car, we packed up the family, and made the trip to the store then the 30-minute trip (60-minutes in the snow) to her house.  She was very grateful, and we spent an hour visiting with her before returning back to our home and playing in the snow. It was a wonderful day, all things considered.

So I’ve been feeling a little sad today, but this memory brightens me a little bit.  When we can;t tell someone who is gone how much we appreciate them, the best we can do is to extend a hand or a heart to someone they loved.

Remembering a random call to my step grandma in 2008

Missing my long-deceased grandpa a little bit

My grandpa (dad’s dad) passed away from lung cancer at age 81 in 1995, so it has been awhile, but am missing him the past few days, I think because we are just back from the British Isles (including near Liverpool and Birkenhead, where he and his parents were born), although he was also was an American patriot.  

Like all of us, he had flaws that I think were generated by his background and some extent generational, but on the other hand he was good to his family and he made an effort throughout my life to make time for me, whether it was taking me golfing, coming to my ballgames, or playing me a game of pool (he had a pool table in his basement).  Although he was a large, booming, gruff former drill sergeant, I always knew he cared for me. I also always felt welcome at his house, even after he remarried in 1982.

I drifted from him a little bit the last 5 years, partly because I was focused on my future wife M, partly because some of his biases were hard for me to take in my early 20s, and partly because I was fighting through some of my own invisible demons at that age.  I really wish that I could tell him right now how much I appreciate that time and effort he gave to me.

Missing my long-deceased grandpa a little bit

A fish gave its life so our dogs could have a dog treat

Somewhere in the recent past a salmon was alive, breathing and swimming.  Then it was captured, ground up and ended up as a free dog treat sample at our local pet store.  I never really thought about how tragic that was until I took out the treat and could smell the salmon.  I am very glad that in the last 5 years I’ve been a pretty good vegeterian (it is rare when I eat meat), inspired by watching the pigs and chickens die in Food Inc.  Please note, I don’t feel holier than thou, I personally just made the choice that I don’t want to take an animal’s life for my own meal when there are fruits and vegetables and (organic and cage free) dairy.     

A fish gave its life so our dogs could have a dog treat